Can Police Stop You Based on a ''Hunch'' ?

In Murphy v. Commonwealth, 9 Va. App. 139, 384 S.E.2d 125 (1989), the defendant made a legal right turn onto a street approximately 350 feet from a police roadblock. The police officer admitted that the defendant's actions were no different than anyone else who intended to turn onto this street. Moreover, there was nothing unusual about the defendant's driving, other than the fact that he turned before reaching the checkpoint. In concluding that the defendant's behavior supported no more than a "hunch" of criminal activity, the Court found that the act of a driver in making a lawful right turn 350 feet before a roadblock does not give rise to a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity unless the driver's turn or action is coupled with other articulable facts, such as erratic driving, a traffic violation, or some behavior which independently raises suspicion of criminal activity. Murphy, 9 Va. App. at 145, 384 S.E.2d at 128. The Court held in Murphy v. Commonwealth, that a legal right turn onto a dead-end road with a roadblock in view, without more, did not give police reasonable suspicion to suspect the defendant of criminal misconduct. See id. at 141, 384 S.E.2d at 126. In Murphy, the officer observed the defendant make a "normal and legal" right turn onto a dead-end street approximately 350 feet before a checkpoint. Id. The officer acknowledged that nothing distinguished the operation of the defendant's vehicle from that of any other driver attempting to make a right turn. See id.